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Restaurant Entrepreneur Amit Raizada on revamping your restaurant for the Post COVID-19 age

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Within the last week, restaurants in some of the country’s largest provinces have shut down again and local Montreal restaurants are trying to survive revamping your restaurant for the Post-COVID-19. Our friendly neighbours to the south in states—including California and Texas—have once again been asked to close their doors to help curb the spread of COVID-19. While we all must do our part to keep our communities safe, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for restauranteurs to survive in an industry in which success is already illusive. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of new restaurants go under within their first year of operation, and as the pandemic continues to grip our country and generate economic uncertainty, it’s likely this already bleak figure could climb even higher.

We sat down with Amit Raizada, venture capitalist and CEO of Spectrum Business Ventures, to gain some insight into the steps restauranteurs and investors can take to reverse this trend.

Amit Raizada on revamping your restaurant for the Post-COVID-19

Raizada has spent more than two decades investing in restaurants. He was an early backer of Tocaya Organica, a fast-casual vegan cuisine in Southern California that was recently highlighted by John Legend, and has experience designing innovative dining experiences for consumers across the country.  

Delivery is Key

Raizada said that implementing an effective and convenient food delivery system is the most crucial step a restauranteur can take to stay afloat during this crisis.

“People can’t go out to eat, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t for food from their local restaurants,” Raizada said. “During this stressful time, people take comfort in being able to order their favourite foods. Restauranteurs would be wise to figure out a way to safely get that food to them.”

Raizada said that one of the most effective ways to do this is to invest in talented staff members who can be trusted to efficiently deliver food in challenging situations.

“Transitioning your restaurant from dine-in to delivery-based means investing in human capital,” Raizada said. “Hire responsible employees whom you can trust to drive customers’ orders around town.

The tricky thing with delivery, Raizada said, is mitigating long wait-times. Consumers may lose interest if faced with exorbitant waits before receiving their meals.

“Make sure you’re well-staffed with delivery men and women,” Raizada said. “Consumers want meals from their favourite restaurants, but they may not forgive hour-long wait times.”

PPE

When your restaurant eventually re-opens for dine-in customers, Raizada recommends investing heavily in PPE.

“Restauranteurs should be prepared to invest in face shields, masks, gloves, and any other equipment to keep their team safe,” Raizada said. “Restaurants should be sure to comply with all state and local health guidelines and should be expected to take efforts to preserve the health and well-being of their employees.”

Using PPE reduces the spread of COVID-19 and increases the likelihood that businesses and restaurants will be able to remain open for good.

“Investing in PPE is a win-win,” Raizada said. “You keep your employees and customers safe, you reduce the spread of the virus in your community, and you help flatten the curve so that your restaurant can eventually reopen in full. In this new reality, it’s the ultimate I’m OK-You’re OK”

A New Atmosphere

“I’ve always believed that a restaurant’s atmosphere and energy undergird its success,” said Raizada. “In the age of social media, the restaurants that truly take off are those that are able to turn dining at their establishment into a unique, sharable experience. A viral Tweet or social media trend can be just as lucrative for your restaurant as a Michelin Star.”

While Raizada said that he has traditionally sought investments in restaurants that embody the high-energy approach found in nightlife establishments, he claimed that the most sought-after qualitative restaurant attribute in the post-COVID age may end up being the feeling of cleanliness.

“I’ve always sought to craft unique experiences at my restaurant ventures, employing innovative new models to bring in customers,” Raizada said. “Restauranteurs should use the same tactics to create an energy that exudes cleanliness and safety. Use bright lighting and outdoor patios. Take customers’ temperatures. Conspicuously clean the floors and wipe down the tables. Take whatever steps you can to ensure your customers feel safe.”

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